Music, movies and Andrea Lewis

So it's Friday, I'm Betty and Sherry had a question and a reminder. Question first: Is this more fun than doing my own site? Yes, because I don't worry about this.

I'm not looking at the dreaded outline or wondering if I need to bring in X or Z yet, or whether Betinna might know too much too early, or . . . You name it. Rebecca said to just have fun while she was gone. She said it could be short or long and that if I didn't have time, not to sweat it.

Sherry reminded me of the "Why Thomas Friedman question?" That was on the list and both she and Goldie had wondered that. I said last night that he just ticked me off but Rebecca had replied to both of them awhile back and explained it that way. So since he ticks me, why make him the focal point?

If I had it to do over, he wouldn't be. I spent a lot of weeks pondering the site and what it would be about before I started it. I did test chapters. Throughout it all, C.I. would ask me if I worried I might get burnt out on Thomas Friedman? (Like Betinna, I find myself calling him "Thomas Friedman." I didn't do that until I started the site. I'd call him "Friedman.") I didn't think so, that I'd get burnt out, but I was wrong.

Do I regret it? If I was going to be doing the site for years and years, I would regret it. I'm not doing it for years and years. At the end of 2008, I'll probably shut it down. I can hang on for that.

Hope that covered it but, if not, let me know.

Now I need to note Sunny who is filling in for Elaine. I've spoken to her a few times over the phone and she's always sweet and, yes, sunny. She's doing a great job filling in at Like Maria Said Paz. I hope you're already visiting the site but if not, please make a point to. Her next post will be on Rebecca. So to find out some more about the woman who usually blogs here, you'll need to check out Sunny's post at Like Maria Said Paz. (I believe it's going up tonight.)

Sunny is filling in. I say that because I'm sure someone's wondering if she's going to start her own site? Last year, when Rebecca went on vacation, Elaine basically got told, "Tag, you're it!"
This is where Elaine started blogging. I don't remember how long she blogged for, it was over four weeks and it may have been six weeks. (Rebecca doesn't plan on being gone that long this summer.) She did a wonderful job and we all loved what she was doing here. Mike spearheaded a petition drive to get her to continue blogging.

So she did and started her own site: Like Maria Said Paz. Maria is a member of The Common Ills community and she used to rotate with Miguel and Francisco on picking headlines from the week's Democracy Now! in Spanish and English. The way it ended up, Maria pretty much took the full school year. So now Francisco and Miguel are taking the summer to give her a break. But "Paz" is "Peace" in Spanish and Maria would always explain, in Spanish, at the start that she was offering X number of headlines from Democracy Now! and then sign off with "Paz."

Maria is wonderful and she and I have found that we have a great deal in common. (We have the same number of children, we're both single, working mothers, we have a similar outlook on raising children . . .) To know Maria is to love her. (That's a rip from the old sixties song: "To know, know, know him, Is to love, love, love him . . .") And she's strongly committed to peace as is Elaine. They got to know each other serving on several community committees. So when Elaine finally decided to start the blog (as the petition and e-mails were coming in), she wanted to honor Maria's committment to peace -- that's how she came up with the title. (Maria is flattered.)

But Sunny has made it clear that she's happy to fill in but doesn't think she has enough in her for her own site. (I think she's wrong.) So to clear it up, Sunny's not planning on launching her own site. (But then Elaine hadn't planned on it either . . .)

Two people went to my site and wrote that I only had a paragraph about Thomas Friedman. They only read the top post. That was a news round up that we all worked on. "The cross-dressing, I can live with, the right-wing plotting . . ." was my last chapter.

Before I go further, let me post C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" [This is Friday's, my sister pointed out to me that I had posted Thursday's last night. My mistake. I've fixed it now.]:

Chaos and violence continue.
Iraq was rocked with bombings today. As Sandra Lupien noted on
KPFA's The Morning Show, "As many as 17 are dead and at least 50 wounded following attacks on mosques." The BBC reports that the bombs went off "in Baghdad and Baquba following Friday prayers." Al Jazeera notes that, in Baghdad, a car bomb went off near one Sunni mosque and a mortar round landed on another. In addition to the mortar attack on the mosque, Reuters reports another one in Baghdad that took the lieves of at least three people and wounded at least 30. Reuters also notes a car bomb exploding near a mosque in Tal Banat ("killed six and wounded 46") and that three people were gunned down in Mosul. The Associated Press reports that, in Sinjar, at least eight died and 48 were wounded when "a car bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque".
Along with the above, the
AFP reports that two sheikhs may have been kidnapped. Sheikh Said Mohammed Taha al-Samarrai of Mahmudiyah is reported kidnapped and killed according to Sunni members of Parliament. The second sheikh believed to be kidnapped is Sheikh Alaa Mohammed Abbas al-Rikabi -- and that's according to Sheikh Abdel Ghafur al-Sammarai who also states "that 181 Sunni clerics have been killed since February."
Mahmudiyah was the hometown of Abeer Qasim Hamza, the 15-year-old who was allegedly rape before being killed (along with three of her family members) by US military forces. Steven D. Green is the only one charged so far. In court Thursday, his attorney Scott Wendelsdorf "entered a plea of 'not guilty on all counts,'"
Reuters reports.
In peace news,
Bay Area Code Pink is fasting and picketing . . . outside the home of War Hawk Di Fi (the home warbucks is building): " Senator Diane Feinstein recently voted against John Kerry's amendment calling for the troops to come home. Let's make sure she doesn't disappoint her constituents again. Gather with us, as we encourage her to co-sponsor the Harkin bill (S. CON. RES 93) no permanent military presence or military bases in Iraq; no attempt to control the flow of Iraqi oil; and Armed Forces should be redeployed from Iraq as soon as practicable after the completion of Iraq's constitution-making process or December 31, 2006 - which ever comes first."
CODEPINK also continues their fast in DC and elsewhere as people across the country continue fasting or begin to show their support. Kris Wise (Daily Mail) writes of West Virginians taking part in the fast and quotes Janie Poe: "I'll go for as long as my body can hold out or until my group tells me to stop. It's probably detrimental for us on our bodies, but it's us screaming out to people to wake up."
Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis interviewed Dahr Jamail and Mark Manning (info on tonight's event below) on the subject of Iraq. On the issue of the alleged rape and the murders, Dahr Jamail said, "This type of thing is happening on a regular basis in Iraq . . . [rapes during house raids] even in the capital city of Baghdad." Mark Manning pointed out that the legal immunity given to contractors and the military has created "a huge problem" and that the Iraqis have seen too many incidents being wiped away without investigation.
Event tonight:
An upcoming event: Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822)

Mark Manning will be screening his film Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.

I can't wait to hear the Dahr Jamail interview. If you can't wait, you can listen online for free. (Maybe you already heard it?) I don't listen online. Kat's kind enough to tape The Morning Show for me and then mail it at the end of each week. It usually arrives on Tuesday. She'll make recommendations (example: "There's a writer in the final half-hour that you have to hear!") and I'll wait until the weekend and put the tapes in while I'm cleaning. I'll get this week's tape next Tuesday. Kat once wondered if I felt the news breaks were a waste of time because they were now a week old by the time I'd hear them? Not at all. So much is going on and so much just falls out of our memories (and out of the news) that it reminds me of the stories that were being covered.

If you're Black (or African-American, I'm from the South and old school so I use "Black"), I think you'd really appreciated Andrea Lewis. She's a great interviewer and everyone should appreciate her for that alone. But as a Black woman, she is just such a relief because she can be serious, she can be funny, but she's not foolish. I get so tired of Black women who play foolish on the radio. They're usually teamed up with a man and if they're not playing foolish, they're playing bitter. (I doubt that the women are either foolish or bitter. But they have to play supporting cast to some man and that's the two roles they get stuck with.) Andrea Lewis is just Andrea Lewis on air. It may be a persona but it's a strong one and one that I value. Andrea Lewis is also a lesbian so if you're looking for someone who's not forced into the role of right-wing stereotype by race, gender or sexuality, you should make a point to check her out.

Listen and see if she doesn't become your on air, smart friend. I feel like I know her. That's really important because I don't feel I know a lot of Black women I hear on the radio or see on TV. On TV, in the reality shows, we get to be the token bitch. I'm not sure if that started with MTV's Real World or not but that show, and every other since, seems to always hold a spot for the "black bitch." You can't kid yourself that the woman's just a strong woman being called names, she earns that name. That's apparently part of the "fun."

If I'm not seeing that, I'm seeing or hearing silly caricatures who act like they're auditioning for their role in The Beauty Shop. (Didn't Queen Latifah make a film with that title or something close?) I feel older than my years (I'm not even thirty yet, but I feel forty) and that's probably partly due to having children. (Not complaining, I love them. But it does take some of the 'kid' edge of your own personality.) There are women who say things like, "Break me off a piece of that!" and then laugh endlessly. Those women are usually very young or they're a bit of a joke to most people around them. But that's usually what we get on TV and on the radio.

Andrea Lewis is intelligent and can still be funny. If it's acting on her part (and it could be, it's probably hard to be in front of a mike, talking to everyone), she's doing a wonderful part. (I doubt it's an act.) I hope she doesn't leave the program (though I wouldn't begrudge her a chance to expand if it was offered) because I want my daughter to grow up hearing her. There are so many portrayals of Black women that are really offensive. There are also ones that are hurtful.

My oldest child (a boy) is at the age now where he really notices that there aren't any Black children on the shows he watches (Arthur and PBS Kids, mainly) and that they're not really on TV. That's really sad. But, as he gets older, he's got Will Smith and Denzel Washington and probably some more men coming down the line. Women? I love Angela Bassett but I don't see her in a lot of films. I love Halle Berry but she's usually the only Black woman in her films. That was true before the Oscar and still is: The Rich Man's Wife, Losing Isaiah, Swordfish . . . It's also true that she's been topless a bit too much for me to feel comfortable with my daughter watching her movies until she's quite a bit older. (My daughter already knows what breasts are. I'm not offended or ashamed of breasts. But I really do worry about Halle's nude scenes in terms of the message being: Here's how to be liked and noticed . . . especially by White people.)

There's a woman I really love and I always feel like I have to apologize for that. I bring her up and some man dogs on her or people just think I'm being silly. C.I.'s one of the few people who got what I was talking about. When I said Whoopi Goldberg, C.I. said, "Because she's got a body of work." Exactly.

She's made some good films (even a few great ones) and some really bad films. But I remember being a kid and we had Cosby then so it wasn't as bad as it is today where you can go show after show on any given night and might not see a single Black person. But I remember being excited if Mahogany was coming on (I love Diana Ross) or Lady Sings The Blues. There weren't a lot of films with Black people in them that got played (non-cable) during the week. There weren't a lot with them period. There was Richard Pryor and I've seen all of his films and enjoyed him a great deal. And I was lucky because Eddie Murphy was exploding when I was a kid.

But somewhere around the time Whoopi made Clara's Heart, I thought, "Kids in the future are going to have a lot more chances." Maybe they'll see Ghost, maybe they'll see The Little Rascals, Jumping Jack Flash (I love that movie), The Color Purple (ditto, but I love the book more), Made In America, one of the Sister's Act movies, . . . It's a long list. But they'll see her and they'll ask, the way I did about Billy Dee Williams (I knew who Diana Ross was) the first time I saw him onscreen. Their parents can say, "That's Whoopi Goldberg and she made a bunch of movies." I remember being so sad when I had all of Diana films on videotape. My father explained that was all of them. I said, "But she was nominated for an Oscar!" (For Lady Sings the Blues.) As I got older, I saw that it didn't matter. Women don't seem to get the same chances men get in the entertainment world. Eddie Murphy had one turkey after another for a very long, long time. They bombed at the box office. He kept making the films. (He still makes a bomb anytime he's not doing a family film these days.) I think Black men, if they make a string of blockbusters are now closer to the level of White men who are allowed to bomb over and over. But Black women and White women don't seem to get that kind of lattitude. And it's even worse for Black women.

So I really do love Andrea Lewis. She's not playing foolish or helpless. She's an equal to Philip Maldari (they co-host the program). One of them doesn't the 'tough' issues and the other takes the 'soft' ones. They both do the tough issues (solo or together) and the soft ones (ditto). I hope there's some young child in Berkeley (of any color) who hears her and, when he or she grows up, there's this great script because he or she heard a Black woman who had all these dimensions that you don't generally get to see on the big or small screen. He or she will write this strong, funny, intelligent character because listening to Lewis has shown that we're quite a bit more than we've been portrayed.

For Ty, living in New York, it's probably not such a big deal. But Cedric and I aren't on the coasts, we get stereotypes. (Ty enjoys Andrea Lewis as well, I don't mean to imply that he doesn't.) But when we were all in California in May, we would all three alternately ask, "Who is this woman!" (Kat kept teasing/threatening to take me down to the KPFA studio to say, "I've got a woman here from Georgia who just wants to say 'Thank you' to Andrea Lewis.")

It wasn't so long ago that I was a little girl that I've forgotten everything. I remember trying on different clothes or make up or changing my hair because Lisa Bonet or someone else was doing it. I remember searching for the singers who weren't just about sex. And my parents were very strict about music -- probably why I know so much older music. If I complained about needing something new and they didn't like the choices I was wanting to purchase, they'd haul out one of their vinyl albums or cassette tapes and say, "Here, this is your new music."

Diana was almost always safe with them. But with her song "Muscles," I did know, when I was asked, I better have a good answer if I wanted to keep listening. ("Michael Jackson wrote it about his pet snake, Muscles," I said as innocenctly as I could.) Now days?

I feel for Little Kim. She did her time. I wish her the best but pray to the Lord she covers up a little more and finds something else to write about besides sex-sex-sex. I remember going to the grocery store, this was a few years back, and being neverous for my oldest son, who was old enough then to pick up words, because some kid was in a car in the parking lot blasting out a song ("Move bitch, get out the way, get out the way, Move bitch, get out the way, get out the way") that I really didn't want him to grow up hearing.

They're going to hear that. Big business loves to sell us Blacks as sex obsessed, gun toting, drug dealing, whatever. It's all a cartoon (but if you look around, you'll see a lot of kids buying into that -- a lot of parents too). I can hear it by myself and think, "Oh, I guess it's funny." Or pretend or whatever. But I remember being a little girl. I took every word Stephanie Mills sang to heart. I thought Stacy Lattisaw was it when it came to how life was going to be. Or Cherelle or whomever.

I was a big fan of Madonna. I didn't hang out with a large number of White children, so, to be honest, I just thought that's what White women do. Oh, those naughty White girls, I'd think. I think I even said that to my mother once because I can remember my father being very upset when he heard one of Madonna's songs I was playing on my tape player and my mother calmed him down. (Probably told him, "Honey, it's okay. She thinks that's what White girls do. She's not going to start wearing her underwear in public and saying she's like a virgin.")

I don't know. Maybe I'm just too old. (Told you, I lost the "kid" edge long ago.) I wish sometimes that I was one of those parents who felt like, expose them to everything and they'll sort it out. I'm sure some children can do that. They probably have wonderful parents. But that's not my parenting style.

I also remember finding Madonna exciting, even if she wasn't doing anything I was going to try to do. I get a little sad when I see her these days. She's hopefully a wonderful mother, but she could be so saucy and shocking. What I did take from that was that no one was going to tell me who I was. Maybe I worry too much and the Little Kim's are sending the same message out to young girls today? Maybe if a White woman was doing the same thing I wouldn't think twice?

I don't know though. I find Britney Spears pretty repulsive. (As a recording artist. I think enough's been said about her mothering and I won't add to that. Hopefully, what everyone talks about were just catching her on her worst days and, honestly, we've all had some of those if we're raising children.) I can remember an aunt having a fit that I was listening to Stevie Nicks and screaming, "She's a witch!" to my father. My dad went through the cassette covers and I was thinking, "Oh, I'm never going to be able to hear Stevie Nicks again." When he was done looking at the covers and the lyrics, his verdict was: "She keeps her clothes on." I don't see a lot of that today. (I don't know that Stevie Nicks was a witch or is a witch. I believe that she's denied it. I could care less. I still will rock out with "Stand Back" or "Talk To Me" when it's time for spring cleaning.) But does anyone keep their clothes on today?

And then you've got the boys. I'll wrap this up with these comments on the boys. Justin Timberlake is disgusting. I did write ABC to object to his hosting that Motown special. No way was he hosting that at the same time Janet was basically banned from the Grammys. I don't remember Janet saying, "Here's my boob!" I remember him exposing it. I'm sure they worked it out together. (It wasn't the end of my world but I did think it was sad that it happened on national television.) He was some sort of 'stud' for ripping off her top and she was some sort of 'slut' for having her top ripped off. I'm old enough to know boys from men and I'm really sick of these boys who use women in order to look like men.

He's just another squeaky-voiced boy dreaming of being Michael Jackson. And that's probably not the most "macho" thing to be. It wasn't when I was a kid, though we all loved Michael. (But we never thought he was manly.) So he's like a little boy who can't keep his hands out of his pants to impress you with how manly he is.

If a boy wants to be a man, he needs to do it in some way other than stepping on women. So that's it, I'll stop my lecture now.